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Sports & Recreation

  • Best New Astro

    Darin Erstad

    Erstad isn't new in the rookie sense of the word, he's just another new guy on a team full of other new guys. Besides just being an all-around badass (he's been to the MLB All-Star Game twice and has won a Gold Glove three times), he's just a good, old hardworking dude. He's no slouch like some other unnamed Astros,… More >>
  • Best Astro

    Hunter Pence

    Hunter Pence hit the big leagues like a man on fire last season. Any ball that came close to him, he hit. And any ball that came close to him in center field, he fielded. Not even an injury slowed him down. This season, Pence has become Mr. Indispensible to manager Cecil Cooper. He bats first, second, third, fifth, sixth or seventh, and he… More >>
  • Best Dynamo

    Pat Onstad

    Pat Onstad is the best goalie in Major League Soccer. Period. That's why we're glad he plays for us. Nobody tops the keeper's ability at dashing a shooter's hopes of getting a goooooaaaaal! Sure, scoring helps in the winning department, but those points would mean jack if the other team were able to turn around and match them. Onstad also… More >>
  • Best Cheap Seats

    Houston Aeros

    Hockey is a wonderful sport to watch live. It's even better to watch up close. And there's no better or cheaper place to do both than at a Houston Aeros game at Toyota Center. You can sit center ice, just a few rows back, for $31 — the same seats the Rockets will charge you a couple of hundred dollars for. The… More >>
  • Best Commentator

    Jim Deshaies — ­Houston Astros, Fox Sports ­Houston

    Jim Deshaies had some tough shoes to fill when he took over the Astros analyst spot from Larry Dierker. But let's just say, as J.D. settles into his second decade as the Astros TV analyst, that he has not only surpassed Dierker, he has perhaps surpassed every other analyst in baseball. The former starting pitcher knows the ins and outs of… More >>
  • Best City Park

    Hermann Park

    Where can you meet Inda the Orangutan, see Shakespeare under the stars or learn how to play the bongos? Where can you play on one of the first desegregated public golf courses in the U.S., meet a butterfly up close or ride a pedal boat? All while enjoying the great outdoors? Just one place: Hermann Park. The park has seen… More >>
  • Best Comet

    Tina Thompson

    Now in her 11th year in the WNBA, the six-foot-two Thompson was the first-ever player selected in the inaugural league draft. Back then, she was in the shadow of teammates Cynthia Copper and Sheryl Swoopes, but no longer. She's the undeniable leader of the team (and the only original member left). Thompson is also a league leader: A member of… More >>
  • Best Gun Range

    Top Gun Handgun ­Training and Shooting Center

    If you own a pistol/rifle/weapon, chances are you have a favorite place to shoot — and Top Gun should be that place, with its spacious indoor range and cheap fees. Monday is seniors' day, and anyone older than 62 can shoot for free. Women get the same deal on Wednesdays. There's a nice area to relax, decked out with hunting… More >>
  • Best Play-by-Play Announcer

    Bill Brown, Astros TV

    Listening to Bill Brown do the Astros has always been great, but it's gotten better and better the longer he's been working with Jim Deshaies. The famously goofy former pitcher brings out Brown's usually hidden puckish side. Still very much the straight man, he's now managing to land a few jabs in the back-and-forth that can make listening to yet… More >>
  • Best Sports Talk Host

    Charlie Pallilo, KBME, 790-AM

    Erudition, calm conversation — these are ­generally not attributes associated with sports-talk radio. Mindless blather, yes; pathetic "guy talk," sure; but intelligent, fact-based discourse, no. Unless you're listening to Charlie Pallilo on 790-AM. He leaves the screaming to the other stations (and in Houston, there are plenty of other sports-talk ­stations). He'll argue with fans and call an idiotic trade… More >>
  • Best Texan

    DeMeco Ryans

    The Houston Texans' defense has not always been a joyful thing to behold, unless you like suckage. But that could be quickly changing, in no small part thanks to aggressive, smart, talented players like linebacker DeMeco ­Ryans. NFL Rookie of the Year in 2006, he made the Pro Bowl the following year and in 2008 he's been anointed as the… More >>
  • Best Skatepark

    Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark

    Houston, it's about damn time this happened. Though there've been other public skateparks, the Lee and Joe Jamail Skatepark is the very first City of Houston public skatepark, and people couldn't be more excited. And by all accounts they should be. The new concrete beast that locals now get to shred at is a colossal 30,000 square feet of rails,… More >>
  • Best Basketball Court

    Courts at the Downtown YMCA - CLOSED

    The courts at the Downtown YMCA are a solid place to find a pickup game. Or, if you don't have the stamina to physically run the length of a basketball court, there's usually enough space to find an open hoop where you can just shoot around. There's a group of older guys that play Monday nights, but the 50-somethings can… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Matagorda Bay

    Whether you want to bird, hike or fish, you can do it at Matagorda Bay Nature Park. And while it's definitely wilderness, the 1,600-acre park has plenty of amenities. Butterflies stop in Matagorda Bay from September through November, while the January and February skies are full of birds. (More than 250 varieties have been counted in a single day, but some… More >>
  • Best Place to Canoe

    Armand Bayou Nature Center

    The Armand Bayou Nature Center is a good place to be outside. Located in a suburban neighborhood in far south Houston, the center is not "off-the-beaten-path" cool, but it is a big area where you can experience a lot of nature-y things. One of those is a canoe trip down the Armand Bayou. The nature center offers a guided trip… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    Mulligan's Golf

    Mulligan's Golf is a laid-back place where you can have a good time and shank a few balls without being called a "trunk slammer." The range is hidden along a stretch of FM 1960 filled with empty retail strips. But Mulligan's has survived for close to 15 years. It's a family-owned place, and the owner's son, Stephen Pierce, recently returned… More >>
  • Best Stadium Announcer

    Bob Ford — ­Houston Astros­

    One runs out of words to describe the voice of Bob Ford. Deep and booming are just too cliché. But it's fair to say that the Minute Maid Park sound system isn't needed to hear Ford in the deepest of center-field seats. He doesn't cheer. He doesn't shout. He just uses his majestic voice to relay the lineups or the batter. And there's no better sense… More >>
  • Best Beach

    Crystal Beach

    If your idea of paradise is a long, secluded beach with gently rolling waves and miles of sand to dig in, you won't find a better place than this. Besides sunning and swimming, fishing is popular at Crystal Beach — both surf (wade out into waist-deep water on the second sandbar) and jetty fishing (you can walk two miles out… More >>
  • Best Radio Talk

    John Granato & Lance Zierlein

    There's one thing that sets John Granato and Lance Zierlein apart from every other sports-talk show in Houston: They're freaking funny. Hilarious, even. Zierlein is a master at voices (ESPN's Lou Holtz and "SEC Guy" are highlights), and Granato is the loud guy at the bar you don't mind so much because he's actually entertaining you rather than boring you.… More >>
  • Best Sports Moment

    The Marching Owl Band Goes After Todd Graham

    Todd Graham did the miraculous in 2006:  He led the Rice Owl football team to its first bowl game in 45 years. He got a raise and a contract extension, and then he split the beautiful Rice campus for the University of Tulsa's Golden Hurricane football team. Last season, Graham returned to Rice Stadium and The Marching Owl Band (The MOB) showed… More >>
  • Best Day Trip

    Bryan/College Station

    Yeah, yeah, we've all heard dozens of Aggie jokes — but the joke might be on us. Aggies call Bryan/College Station home, and the area is a lovely corner of open spaces, bluebonnets and historic buildings. Just two hours northwest of Houston, Bryan/College Station offers great restaurants, a restored downtown, dozens of antique stores and art galleries, and several family… More >>
  • Best Public Pool

    Downtown YMCA - CLOSED

    It's official: The current downtown YMCA building, a ten-story Renaissance Revival structure designed by Kenneth Franzheim in 1941, is coming down, and a new (and reportedly smaller) Y will be built near the current location. Some members might be dreaming of the new, shiny, state-of-the-art facilities, but we're going to miss the current Y's pool. Yeah, it's past its prime,… More >>
  • Best Place for an After-Work Jog

    Eleanor Tinsley Park

    As long as you're there before dark, Eleanor Tinsley offers a pleasant tour of Buffalo Bayou with plenty of pleasant scenery and shade. The trail follows the bayou below the theater district, through Buffalo Bayou Art Park, past the new public skatepark and through plenty of tree-filled openings, all with the skyline in the background. The twists and turns allow… More >>
  • Best Place to See Real Fake Wrestling

    Doomsday Wrestling

    We wouldn't be surprised if Doomsday sent one of its "wrestlers" to our door to fake beat us up for this award. We tested fate last year by naming the athletic-comedy-acting troupe as Best Comedy Show. But we'll take our chances once again in order to tip our hat to antics that would either piss off the wrestlers of WWF… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch Ultimate Fighting

    The Tavern - CLOSED

    Yes, there is a $10 cover, but it's worth avoiding the usual unpleasantries — i.e., a lack of seating and uninterested company. Around town, your group's chances of finding a seat at UF viewings are about as good as Chris Lebon's against Rampage Jackson. (And don't even pretend like Lebon would stand a chance, because you know that fool would… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Dominic Kinnear ­(Houston Dynamo)

    There's something to be said for a team that moves to a different city and then wins two championships in its first two years. That's what Dynamo Coach Dominic Kinnear helped achieve when his San Jose Earthquakes moved to Houston in 2006. Previously, Kinnear had led the Earthquakes to the MLS Supporters' Shield. Then, in 2006 and 2007, the Dynamo… More >>
  • Best Rocket

    Rafer Alston

    Okay, so Rafer Alston may be Houston's contribution to the bad boys of the NBA after a pair of run-ins with the cops last August. He was charged with public intoxication and assault in Space City, and then charged with stabbing a man at a Manhattan nightspot. But in an issue dedicated to sin, that just means "Skip" rises to… More >>
  • Best Aero(s)

    Nolan Schaefer and ­Barry Brust

    The saying is that a good defense will always beat a good offense. And last season the Houston Aeros didn't have a good offense. The fact that the Aeros made the playoffs can be attributed to their good defense, led ­primarily by goalies Nolan Schaefer and Barry Brust. The two accounted for ten shutouts, and they allowed the fewest points in the American Hockey… More >>
  • Best Place to Walk Your Dog

    The Unofficial Dog Park at Allen Parkway and Studemont

    Although not an officially recognized dog park, this is one of the most popular spots for people and their pooches. It features tons of open, flat space for walking, running and playing fetch. There are woodsy areas for the more inquisitive canines, and itís right on Buffalo Bayou, perfect for swimming or a quick cool-down. Itís situated at the bottom… More >>
  • Best Bowling Alley

    Palace Bowling Lanes

    They're not only a bowling palace but also a pleasure palace, depending on your vice. Complete with all the basics, including digital scoring and a full snack bar and grill, they open up at 8 a.m. daily so you can get your roll on first thing in the morning. However, this place also boasts one of the most delightfully sinful… More >>
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